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Discursive and Material Practices of Mourning: Bodies, Space and Time

Within the territory of mourning, this thesis tells three autoethnographic stories of death; the unexpected death of the author’s 16-year old brother, Grant, when she was herself a child; the later painful dying of her father; then the wrenching ending of her mother’s life. Within these significant encounters with death and loss, three particular moments are selected in an exploration of the ways in which mourning, materiality, space and time are co-implicated. These moments are shown to embody an intersection of mourning and materiality – as bodies, tears, feet, dresses, breasts and fluids – space and time. Poststructuralism and new materialist theorising frames the analysis of the ways in which mourning is both discursively and materially produced. Autoethnography becomes a diffractive methodology that uses self as data, including showing the professional learning/teaching moments in which the connections between mourning, bodies, tears and loss were first made visible to the author. In a further step, the thesis moves into the professional domain of counselling in a New Zealand secondary school. The author’s experience of a death in the school community becomes a reflecting surface for noticing the ways in which mourning rituals constitute the subjectivity of those grieving. The author suggests that her professional practice as a school guidance counsellor is shaped by her earlier personal family encounters with mourning. In particular, she suggests, the deconstruction of the stories of these encounters produced particular practices in her work with students, staff and a community touched by sudden death. Personal lived experiences with death and mourning are folded into the mourning school as a dynamic assemblage. In these ways, time and space are shown to meet with the temporal materiality of bodies (both alive and dead), tears, dresses, veils and fluids and their discursive implications, to produce a timespacemattering.
Type of thesis
Barr, A. (2017). Discursive and Material Practices of Mourning: Bodies, Space and Time (Thesis, Master of Counselling (MCouns)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11472
University of Waikato
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